Wondra ends years of almost winning, takes Bonduel spelling bee

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Bonduel Middle School eighth-grade student Meghan Wondra, right, shares a moment with seventh-grade student Carter Schroeder and teacher Jennie Beaumier after the annual Bonduel School District spelling bee. Wondra was the winner of this year’s bee, while Schroeder finished second.

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Meghan Wondra spells a word in the practice round of the Bonduel School District spelling bee Thursday in Sousa Hall at Bonduel High School. Wondra beat out 21 other spellers to be crowned the local champion.

It’s not the word that gave Meghan Wondra the win, but “Finally!” succinctly described her experience with the 2018 Bonduel School District spelling bee.

The eighth-grade Bonduel Middle School student, after years of coming close, won the bee Thursday after spelling the words “petulance” and “endeavor” correctly in the 23rd round. She got the opportunity after seventh-grade student Carter Schroeder misspelled “subterranean” and finished in second place.

Wondra said she has come close several times to winning the school bee, coming in third in 2017 to Abby and Erin Timler. The Timler sisters had a stranglehold on the Bonduel bee for four years, with Erin winning in 2014, 2016 and 2017, and Abby winning in 2015.

Erin Timler is now in high school, and the spelling bee cuts off at the eighth grade. Abby Timler was anticipated to be the winner, but she came in fourth Tuesday after misspelling “fluorescent.”

The first word to stump a Bonduel speller was “cattle.” “Lazily” and “shelves” also flustered students in the early rounds.

The fifth round of the bee caused a mass exodus, with only six spellers remaining. Words like “handiwork,” “testament” and “hoarsely” sent spellers off the stage in that round.

When asked for her reaction to winning the bee, Wondra exclaimed: “Finally!”

“I’ve been really close all these years,” she said. “Ever since fourth grade, I’ve gotten a trophy, and these last two years, I’ve taken third. I really wanted it this year, so I practiced a lot more.”

Wondra said she spent several weeks preparing for the bee this year, whereas she waited until two days before in previous years. It seemed to help, as she said she didn’t have any difficulty spelling the words she received or knowing word definitions in the vocabulary rounds.

Wondra anticipated it would be a three-way battle between her, Timler and Schroeder and was surprised when Timler bowed out early.

“Now I have to study even more,” Wondra said.

Although many in the crowded hall were surprised that Timler wasn’t in the top three, Jennie Beaumier, the district’s spelling bee coordinator, said she had a feeling Wondra would come out on top.

“I asked her about it, and she said, ‘I feel like I’m going to win,’” Beaumier said. “She had studied very hard, and she cares a lot about it.”

The regional spelling bee will take place at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13 in Sousa Hall at Bonduel High School. The winner from that bee will go on to the state spelling bee in March.